Ash Grove Cement Co. agreed to pay a $2.5 million penalty and invest approximately $30 million in pollution-control technology at its nine Portland cement manufacturing plants to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice.
The agreement will reduce more than 17,000 tons of harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution each year across plants located in Foreman, Ark.; Inkom, Idaho; Chanute, Kan.; Clancy, Mont.; Louisville, Neb.; Durkee, Ore.; Leamington, Utah; Seattle, Wash.; and Midlothian, Texas.
“Today’s settlement will reduce air pollution that can harm human health and contribute to acid rain, haze and smog,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The new stringent limits on emissions will lead to less pollution and better air quality for communities across the country.”
“This significant settlement will achieve substantial reductions in air pollution from Ash Grove’s Portland cement manufacturing facilities and benefit the health of communities across the nation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Robert G. Dreher. “The agreement reflects the Justice Department’s ongoing commitment to protecting public health and the environment and will bring Ash Grove’s entire system into full compliance with the nation’s Clean Air Act.”
In addition, Ash Grove has agreed to spend $750,000 to mitigate the effects of past excess emissions from several of its facilities.
The settlement requires Ash Grove to meet stringent emission limits and install and continuously operate modern technology to reduce NOx, SO2, and particulate matter (PM). Ash Grove is required to reduce NOx emissions at nine kilns, some of which will have the lowest emission limits of any retrofit control system in the country. In addition, modern pollution controls must be installed on every kiln to reduce PM emissions, and on several kilns to reduce SO2 emissions.
In addition, at its Texas facility, Ash Grove will shut down two older, inefficient kilns, while a third will be replaced with a cleaner, newly reconstructed kiln.
Ash Grove will also spend $750,000 on a project to replace old diesel truck engines at its facilities in Kansas, Arkansas and Texas, which are estimated to reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxides by approximately 27 tons per year.
The settlement is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control harmful air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including portland cement manufacturing facilities. This is also the first settlement with a cement manufacturer that requires injunctive relief and emission limits for PM. SO2 and NOx, two key pollutants emitted from cement plants, can harm human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze. These pollutants are converted in the air into fine particles of particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death.
Eight states and one local agency have joined the United States in the settlement, including: Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Washington and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.